By Fred Mitchell
As a longtime Baseball Hall of Fame voter, I become more conflicted each year with regard to rewarding players who have been associated with steroids or other performance enhancers.
One of my concerns is with Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 631st home run recently to pass Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the all-time list.
"It means I'm getting older, that's for sure -- quickly," Rodriguez told reporters after taking Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholz deep at Fenway Park. "Griff was a great friend and a mentor and a great teammate. It's kind of flattering, humbling, when you start being mentioned with some of these great names."
Unfortunately, Rodriguez’s name also has been mentioned with other proven and alleged steroid users such as Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.
The point of conflict, in my mind, is that several pitchers have been charged with using performance enhancers, as well. While two wrongs certainly don’t make a right, the playing field is somewhat evened out when both hitters and pitchers use an artificial boost.
Hall of Fame voters have spoken with regard to McGwire and Palmeiro in their initial attempts to gain admittance. What is fair for one should be fair for all, regardless of how many home runs a player hits.
Fred Mitchell is a veteran Chicago Tribune sportswriter